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Use Twitter Replies Responsibly

by Travis Harvey | December 9, 2009December 9, 2009 12:45 pm PDT

It has come to my attention that many people choose misuse or are ignorant to the proper use of the @reply/mention.  In fact, as Twitter continues to grow, visible conversations through Twitter are becoming a rarity.  Follow along as we break down the two proper uses of the Twitter reply.

The Mention

Mentions are the start of any twitter conversation, even if it’s one way.  A mention references another user but not a specific tweet. reply1Mentions end up as a the majority of @username uses, even when the user should have used the reply button.  If another user takes the initiative to turn your tweet into a conversation, the first mention of that user will become the foundation of the conversation.

The Reply

When you’re responding to a tweet, I’m begging you to use the reply button.  No, this is not the same as starting a new tweet and including a @mention of their twitter username.  Each and every tweet is assigned a specific numerical identifier.  Clicking the ‘Reply’ button will link your response to the tweet you’re referencing.  When a tweet is referring to another, you’ll see “in reply to…” below the tweet. You can click that link and it will take you to the linked tweet, allowing you to track and catch up on twitter conversations. replyreference1 The true power of twitter conversations comes through 3rd party applications that display the chain of replies into an actual discussion.  It’s immensely more convenient than searching through old timelines to get yourself up to speed.

Please, please use the ‘@’ responsibly.  It’s very frustrating to find a tweet that’s clearly in reference to another and not being able to catch up with the conversation. If you don’t want anyone stalking your conversations, change your preferences to protect your tweets.  Help make Twitter a better place and spread the word.